Buckle your seatbelts because it’s gonna be a long one, folks! After watching three hours of Geneva City Council sausage making last night, all I can say is, “Worst reality show ever!” With a few notable exceptions, that gaggle ain’t gonna be any threat to MENSA anytime soon!
To end the suspense, Mayor Kevin Burns’ ordinance conferring the capacity for the City of Geneva to fine businesses that contravene Governor Pointless’ unconstitutional COVID mitigations, went down in 7 to 3 flames. But believe it or not, that’s not nearly the whole story! There’s an immense irony involved that may out irony the plethora of ironies we’ve been discussing for the last 15 years.
So, let’s start at the beginning because that’s always a good place to start.
One of my favorite Facebook friends immediately noted that the Mayor’s speaking cadence was way off in only the best Captain Kirk stammering way last night. But this time, he wasn’t drunk! He was in such a seething state about the ordinance going public that he could barely contain himself.
After those opening remarks, it was on to legend-in-his-own-mind Mayoral lapdog, Alderman Craig Maladra, who, replete with his artificially faltering voice and insistent downward glances, launched into a pre-written soliloquy that would’ve made Hamlet stand up and say, “Holy f***eth! Methinks that was too f*****g mucheth even for me!”
It was a “glorious” oration covering truth, justice, and the American way, legal gubernatorial fiats, and just like that Dutch boy’s finger in the dike, how Geneva MUST somehow single-handedly stem the plague tide. Between that and his subsequent self-righteous diatribes, Maladra unilaterally extended the meeting 45 minutes longer that it really needed to be.
Then it was lapdog Padawan, Mike Bruno, with his perpetually steepled fingers demonstrating his clear sense of self-importance. He managed to ramble on semi-incoherently in the same vein as Maladra proving that life is, indeed, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” And trust me, it was no accident that the two most pro-Burns aldermen led off the festivities.
Thankfully, Gabe Kaven was next, and not only was he one of the few aldermen who didn’t grossly misrepresent the disease, but he made some cogent points I hadn’t considered. The best was that restaurant goers who feared being fined for eating indoors here would simply resort to Batavia, St. Charles, or Elburn for dining options. He also accurately noted there was absolutely no evidence that COVID was spreading in Geneva bars and restaurants.
But as heartened as I was by Kaven’s rare keen perception of the obvious, Becky Hruby’s bizarre declarations had me banging my head against the wall for every last one of the next 432,000 seconds.
First, it was beyond disconcerting to have to listen to a grown woman speak like a 13-year-old valley girl. And women have the nerve to say men refuse to grow up? Second, her failure to grasp any sort of reality that begins to approximate the rest of ours made me truly want to try whatever drug she must be on. Her abject failure to even begin to comprehend the statistical underpinnings of the pandemic was truly terrifying.
But she did finally make sense when she said, “If you don’t like my decisions, you can run against me!” And she just happens to be up for reelection right now. We’ll discuss that possibility in a bit.
Thankfully, Rich Marks followed that nitwitted-ness with his brief and to-the-point remarks which somewhat restored my insidiously slipping sanity. Rich may well be only city councilman on the planet who understands the Taoist concept of “less is more.”
Then it was my Alderperson and good friend, Jeanne McGowan’s turn, and she must’ve taken her meds yesterday because not only did she make sense, but she was dead on when she lamented the impending demise of so many Geneva businesses at the hands of these BS fines.
Good job Jeanne! I knew you had it in you!
For comic relief, Dean Kilburg couldn’t seem to figure out how to unmute his microphone, with that back-and-forth going on for two solid minutes. Sadly, after his cryptic oratory, I found myself fervently wishing his mic had stayed off.
Alderman Brad Kosirog took the long way home, but he did tie his logic together such that it was clear he wasn’t willing to fine local businesses. Much like Marks, once he made his point, and unlike Bruno and Maladra, he didn’t feel the need to make it again, and again, and again, and again and again.
Tara Burghart, who, like a Harry Potter Dementor, sucks the life out of any room she’s in, gave an atypically impassioned allocution describing how her mother’s downstate dance studio started off in a basement and survived a tornado, but it likely wouldn’t make it through these mitigations.
Pulling up the rear for very good reason, Alderman Robert Swanson proved, once and for all, that it’s far “better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and to remove all doubt.” I swore he was about to say that executing errant business owners would be far more effective than simply fining them.
Because I was far too busy banging my head against my home office wall after Hruby spoke, I missed the alderman who put this brilliant thought forth! They actually offered an amendment whereby any collected fines would be automatically redistributed right back to Geneva businesses.
So, let me get this straight! We’re gonna fine Geneva restaurants and turn around and give that money right back to them? That’s the point at which GPD Chief Eric Passarelli started banging his head against the wall, too. Oh! And that amendment actually passed!
Meanwhile, throughout the proceedings, Geneva City Attorney Ron Sandack demonstrated that he had even less of a grasp on legal reality than Rudy Giuliani. The apparently former conservative told the Council they were on a firm ordinance footing and no one would dare file suit once the ordinance has passed.
But he was dead wrong!
Not only had I lined up some fine folks willing to intercede and pay these absurd fines, but I was fully prepared to sue the City the second they attempted to apply the statute. And that lawsuit would’ve gone before 16th Circuit Judge Kevin Busch who woulda struck the law down faster than a Pennsylvania judge could dismiss a Trump election fraud claim.
If you recall, I had some reasonable success suing the State’s Attorney’s Office over sexual harassment documentation, so should the city take a second bite at this apple, I will haul Sandack’s ample ass into court faster than Mayor Burns can down a fifth of Jack. Oh! And if Mr. Sandack looked familiar last night, it’s because he is! He’s the former Illinois Republican State Rep rising star firebrand who got caught having a verbal dalliance with a Facebook hooker.
For you ladies and the uninitiated, “Facebook hookers” are a breed of females who, by applying fake photographs of “gifted” women, do their damndest to get random men to engage in some untoward conversation. Then they either attempt to solicit funds for further photographs, or they extort money from their victims by threatening to take those conversations to their wives.
Sandack fell afoul of the latter variety and he was forced to resign. So, why am I not the least bit surprised that this is the guy Mayor Burns hired to be the City attorney?
When it was finally time for the public speakers, after a plurality of the aldermen said they’d heard from constituents “on both sides of the issue,” every last one of the twenty in-person and remote attendees were hugely opposed to the ordinance.
My favorite part of that process was watching Assistant City Manager Ben McCready fumble around as he consistently failed to get the remote speakers to actually be heard. And we’re paying $200,000 a year in salary and benefits for that rare technical privilege my fellow Genevans!
But here’s the vast irony I promised!
Based on the evening’s oratory – and particularly Burghart’s – most of the alderman mentally tallied the impending vote total, and just like me, they came up with a 6 to 4 ordinance defeat. But before we proceed, you have to understand a little known concept in municipal law whereby a member of a majority vote can claim they’ve changed their mind and make a motion to revisit the formerly doomed agenda item at the very next meeting.
So, after they sensed that disturbance in the force, despite their impassioned pleas for law, order and everything holy and sacred, at the last minute, Maladra and Bruno switched to the “nay” side just so they could call for that subsequent re-vote! What they, and everyone else failed to foresee is, after that flowery speech about her mother’s dance studio, Burghart still had the temerity to vote “aye!”
I can’t tell you how sorry I feel for whomever was foolish enough to marry her.
But because she was second-to-last in the roll call vote, Maladra and Bruno had already outsmarted themselves. Had Burghart batted earlier in the lineup, the ordinance would’ve passed with Bruno and Maladra both voting “aye!” And trust me, having voted against it, one of our dynamic duo will most certainly attempt to revive it.
So, with the business fine specter still hanging over our collective heads, what can our longsuffering restaurant, bar, and small businesses owners do to forestall this inevitable bad Bond villain end-of-the-movie return? That’s easy!
Burghart, Swanson, Bruno, and Hruby, the alderceatures who wanted to put you out of business, are up for reelection early next year. But with the plague still dominating the news cycle, I’ve had absolutely no luck in recruiting suitable opponents. Perhaps you could either run yourselves, or come up with some intrepid Genevans who, after witnessing this snafu, would be willing to throw their hats in the ring.
What’s my end of the bargain? I’ll be more than happy to run their campaigns at absolutely no charge. But time’s a-wasting because their signature sheets must be submitted by December 21.
I like to think of this possibility somewhat along the lines of ‘Return of the Jedi.’ So, let’s work together to wrest Geneva from the grasp of an Empire and Sith Lord who so clearly want to destroy it. You certainly know where to find me.